In today’s culture of convenience, we are used to getting things as soon as we want them. You can turn on a tap and get hot water, receive a package you ordered that morning, and get to a different country within hours. But perhaps we are too used to this idea that our desires and wants should be instantly satisfied. Carrie Roberts shares some thoughts about dealing with discomfort when quitting drinking.
Mrs D at ‘Mrs D is Going Without’ explains this feeling in relation to changing her drinking really well:
”I do feel more uptight on an evening like last night because…
1) I’m not relaxing with the alcohol in my system
2) I’m not part of the ‘fun’ group having a few drinks
3) I’m having to mentally process abstaining from something ‘fun’ so I’m concentrating on those serious thoughts = serious mood”
Discomfort is what we call that feeling you get when your craving is not met immediately with its object. A lack of drink may cause you to feel uncomfortable or tense, as you notice that sensation of a desire not being fulfilled straight away. It is annoying, and difficult, but, most importantly, it will not kill you.
Humans are suckers for instant gratification, and the interruption of this process is bound to be uncomfortable. You may feel frustrated, anxious, or bored. But adjusting yourself to these feelings and figuring out how to cope with them is a powerful thing to learn.
Helen O’Connor, the psychologist who wrote our Sober Sprint programme, speaks of how changing your thinking can help you beat discomfort. She recommends a daily ritual of self-talk to help manage discomfort through changing patterns of thinking.
Telling yourself that you CAN tolerate more discomfort than you think and that the feeling will not kill you are great things to remind yourself when you feel your resolve wavering.
Another way of dealing with discomfort is through distraction. Distraction works by focusing your attention onto something other than your discomfort, allowing you to immerse yourself fully in a neutral task that pushes you out of yourself and your cravings.
Instead of simply waiting for the feeling of discomfort to pass, getting up and doing something will make the tension pass quicker- and you might even get something done as a result of it!
Hobbies are a great way of finding this distraction for yourself. Club Soda members have been trying out origami, knitting, reading, gardening, sculpting and hula hooping to name a few, all of which are really great ways to put yourself outside of your mind long enough to let the discomfort pass. Hobbies really do work as a distraction technique; it comes down to finding whatever works best for you. The important thing is that you find what works and do it!
Like Member Melissa who has pulled her skates out from under the bed:
“So I’m trying to get some skills back after pretty much not being able to skate due to hangovers over the last year… Here I am today jumping cones again!”
Ultimately, the idea that our wants should be satisfied immediately is an unhelpful way to think about things. Learning to deal with the discomfort that comes from quitting is a positive and necessary thing that will allow you to deal with your cravings better and stay on course. Discomfort is just a feeling and you have the mettle to ride it out and keep on track.